The Rundown on Surf Camp: Is it for You?
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The Rundown on Surf Camp: Is it for You?

Nowadays, there are a plethora of surfing camps to choose from, and no two are really alike. So, should you go to one? If so, which one?

Today, there is such a wide variety of surfing camps that you are sure to find something that’s up your alley. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an experienced surfer. It doesn’t matter if you are pushing preschool or are an elder statesman. 

You can find leisurely surf camps that will have you climbing mountains and staying up throughout the night for the ultimate adventure, or you can opt for peaceful and serene afternoons where everything is expanded gradually. 

Research Comes First

Whatever the case may be, don’t shy away from looking into surfing camps and what they have to offer. Most of the time, people worry that they won’t be able to afford to go to camp once all the expenses come together and just drop the idea entirely. 

Yes, there are camps that have ridiculously high price tags, and you won’t be able to see them through without spending a few thousand dollars, but it’s also true that there are camps that offer daily packages for low prices.  

Usually, camps where you have a personal instructor will come at a steeper price point than camps where you are training in bigger groups. So, the more attention you warrant, the more you should be willing to pay for it. 

The main two camps that riders usually go for are surf travel camps or all-Inclusive Surf camps. But if you don’t fit in either, that’s perfectly fine too. Let’s take it step by step and dissect everything that you should consider before booking your surf camp. 


Alright. The very first thing that you should consider when looking at surfing camps is your budget. Makes sense, right? There is no use looking at camps that you won’t be able to afford. 

While there is some truth to the notion that higher-priced offers deliver a higher degree of professionalism and a better overall experience, that’s not something that is set in stone or something that should be considered as a rule. There are always great camp offers out there. You just have to track them down. 

You might be thinking that if a camp is relatively affordable, then it couldn’t possibly have the means to hire professional coaches, have high-end equipment, and offer great service in great locations. Well, we mustn’t forget that a lot of the camps are part of bigger events held by endorsers that utilize them as a vehicle for promotion and product movement. 

How Do Surf Camps Work?

The most important thing that you should seek when looking for the most bang for your buck is the coaching staff. Affordable camps might not be able to provide the best locations, but they might have deals in place with endorsers that are big names in the industry. 

So, how does this work? Well, professional surfers and coaches alike make a lot of their income from endorsement deals. 

For instance, if the company that endorses them puts on a surfing camp and sets a fairly affordable entry price so that it can draw eyes onto itself, then someone on their endorsee roster is bound to make an appearance in their events. 

So, technically, you aren’t paying for the service—the company is. It’s part of their annual marketing budget. Convenient, isn’t it? 

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the things you need to keep in mind when choosing a surf camp.

Coach to Student Ratio 

If you don’t know anything about surfing and have never had a surfing coach thus far, then look no further than the student ratio and ask for CPR certification. 

You want the coach to have a maximum of five students. If they happen to have more, then it’s almost impossible to give everyone the right attention to detail. 

Build Your Own Program

There are camps where you choose what you want to pay for. You can determine every step of your journey. 

Choose how much you want to pay when renting a board, going for individual training, transportation, food, activities, etc. Basically, you can tailor your experience according to your budget. 

Your Surf Level

The second thing that you should take into consideration is your skill level. Obviously, you won’t be able to attend a pro surfing camp if you are an absolute beginner. 

Well, you can, but you won’t have a great time while you’re at it because you just won’t be able to keep up with the exercises, that is, if you don’t get turned down by most of the coaching staff. 

To avoid this, look for camps that accept surfers of all levels. We know that it’s a bit tricky to keep up with a consistent service when the lineup comes from all different walks of life, but if the coaches work with small groups, then the whole situation is a lot more manageable. 

Surf Coaching

Do you know what you're after? Are there certain areas that you would like to hone in on, or are you looking for general improvements? Are you looking to form a base and strengthen your core fundamentals, or are you looking to expand on advanced techniques? 

Additionally, how serious are you about surfing? Are you looking to make a living off of it, or are you a hobbyist that enjoys the surf lifestyle? 

All of these questions should be more or less sorted out before you enlist for a surfing camp. Once you answer those for yourself, it’s rather simple to find the type of coaching you want and need at your surf camp. 

If you want to go to pro camps, you should expect to go through film sessions and work day in and day out with an individual instructor that won’t be taking it easy on you. If you are unsure if you want to jump in from the deep end, and if you have never visited a surf camp before, then take the safe bet and simply book yourself into a surf hotel. This way, you will be able to get a better sense of what the staff and personnel are at the camp. 

Ultimately, there is no way of knowing the kind of coaching you truly need if you have no experience. So, it’s not a bad idea to avoid overthinking and be pragmatic, building up your knowledge and surf skills along the way. 


Surf accommodation

One of the most important facets of surf camps is the accommodation. If you aren’t sleeping well, you sure won’t be having a good time or improving on your skills.

Make sure that the accommodation the surfing camp offers is in line with your preferences. Ask yourself some basic questions. 

Are you more comfortable being alone or as part of a collective? Would you like to have a private room, a semi-private room, or a bigger dorm room? There are camps that go by the military approach and have up to fifty people sleeping in the same room. 

Another thing to consider when looking into the accommodation options is the location of your stay. Will you be close to the sea? Are there any good restaurants and places to visit nearby? What's the reputation of the neighborhood where you will be staying? 

There are surf camps that are miles away from civilization. That's all well and good if that’s what you are after, but most surfers want to have some amenities close by at all times and want to spend their downtime exploring new frontiers. 

Traveling: Alone or as a Group?

The more, the merrier, right? Well, in this case, that might not hold for every situation. If you are going by yourself, then there is no outside syncing you can do in regards to dates and availability. However, if you book a surfing camp as a group, then there is a good deal of planning and dancing around dates before you can make things work. 

This harkens to the accommodation type preference. If you happen to be young and are taking on a surfing camp in order to meet new friends and expand your horizons, then you might be better off at a surf hostel where you will cross paths with a lot of people on a day to day basis. 

There is something for you no matter which road you want to go down, but make sure that you are well informed on the accommodation before you finalize your booking. 

Travel Dates

Even if you are traveling on your own, there is still the date availability fork in the road that you have to figure out and work around. You might have all the free time in the world, and everything might work for you, but you will find that surf hotels and hostels have their own way of doing things. 

For example, most accommodation options will have great offers for three-day trips and offer bad rates on one-day bookings. If you want to take some time to explore your camp surroundings, you will want to plan your stay in accordance with the offers that you will be given. 

An all-inclusive hotel, on the other hand, will provide a group environment where you’ll be able to extend your plans and make more concrete arrangements. 


Alright, this is a big one. Food is a huge part of the surfing part experience, no matter how you slice it. Take a good look at your eating habits before you choose a surf camp. 

Some people will eat anything at any time; others are after the atmosphere while they are enjoying their meals. Some have very strict diets, and for some, every last calorie has to be on the level. 

Vegan Options

If you are a vegan, you want to make sure that you will have vegan options while you are at the camp. If the camp itself doesn’t come with a dining menu, then you can look around at the restaurants and outlets nearby. 

When you set out to surf camp, you don’t want to be frustrated and sidetracked by not being able to feed yourself properly. If you take a bit of time and do a bit of research, you’ll find that It won't take long for you to figure out if the camp you are looking at fits with your nutrition habits, whatever they might be.

Surf Retreat Types

Even if you aren’t meticulous about what you want from your surfing camp, it’s still a good idea to form a general sense of what you are booking so that you have a better idea of how you should prepare for it on a physical and mental level. 

Some retreats and camps are more demanding than others. This doesn't just go for the program that they offer, but for the lifestyle as well. 

Party vs. Leisure

Some are party-oriented, while others are more leisurely. Will you be staying out till dawn with nothing but a backpack, or would you like to kick back with a cool glass of wine on a balcony somewhere? 

You could be attending the same camp program in both scenarios, but it’s up to you to choose the view and amenities that come along with it.

The Overall Fit 

You don’t want to book a camp where everyone speaks a foreign language and no one understands a word you’re saying. Also, it’s probably not the best idea to book an elder statesmen camp as a teenager, right? 

Whatever the case may be, you want to know if the camp is leaning in a certain direction or specialized in something. 

Online Reviews

The best way to get to know this apart from word of mouth is by surfing the internet and looking for some reviews. If the reviews are great but are from people that are mostly retired, is that really great for you as well? It might be. The overall fit is more important than you might think. 

Most riders will go with the adventurer spirit and throw themselves into a situation, but it doesn’t take much for them to come railing back to earth after they can’t strike a conversation with anybody and are bordering on wistful. 

In Closing…

Some people sign for their first surf camp trip in order to get professional surf lessons, but surf camps are much more than that. You can expect to find great food, attractions at a minute's walk, included yoga classes, pool parties, good vibes, and a ton of fun. 

Most of these will be summer camps for adults and kids, but at every camp, there is a strong sense of community just because of the like-minded guests that you meet and hang out with.

There is something for everyone. You have a myriad of destinations and special offers that are all but waiting to take you to your next wave. So, now that you know everything that you should consider before booking your trip, is surf camp something that you’d like to consider? If yes, Nicaragua and Indonesia are known to be great surf camp locations!

Written by
Nico Palacios
surf coaching